Legislative Watch: Maryland House Bill 550 Amended

Good things can happen when historic vehicle owners band together. Find out how the Historic Vehicle Association and members of Maryland historic vehicle community worked to send H.B. 550 back to the legislative drawing board.

Last month we reported on pending legislation in Maryland that would have adversely affected collector vehicle owners by limiting the type of usage allowed for those choosing to register their vehicles as historic. The original bill would have increased the age of vehicles considered eligible for historic plates from 20 to 25 years, removed existing language allowing for occasional transportation, and required historic vehicles to carry specialty or collector car insurance.

Through the vocal support of members of the Maryland collector car community and the cooperation of the bill’s sponsors, H.B. 550 has been amended to provide significantly more affable language for collector vehicle owners. That new language retains the 20-year mark for vehicle eligibility, returns “occasional transportation,” and removes the requirement for specialty insurance.

In addition to these changes, the amended bill also provides exemptions for vehicle repairs, maintenance, upkeep, and fundraising events. It also adds that the historic vehicle cannot be an individual or family’s primary method of transportation.

Historic Vehicle Association President, Mark Gessler, and HVA Vice President, Carmel Roberts, attended the February 28th hearing in Annapolis, Maryland, to show their support for the amended legislation on behalf of the association and its members.

A number of Maryland historic vehicle owners (including representatives from the Free State Region Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, MGs of Baltimore, Bayside Mustangs, Wheels of the Past, and the Falcon Club of America), provided remarks during the hearing for what Chairman James Malone referred to as “the renowned 550” due to the volume of letters and calls committee members received from concerned constituents. Primary bill sponsor Delegate Kirill Reznik quipped, “Who knew this bill would be more controversial than marriage equality?” before explaining the amendments and the compromises reached in crafting the more collector-friendly bill.

The amended bill will now go to subcommittee for further review. Watch the HVA eNewsletter for future installments of “Legislative Watch” to keep date on H.B. 550’s progress as well as other state and national bills the HVA is currently tracking.